Sylvannia Nungarrayi Spencer was born on the 6 June 1989 in Alice Springs Hospital, the closest hospital to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community 290 km north-west of Alice Springs in the NT of Australia. She is the daughter of Phoebie Hargreaves and Ashley Japaljarri Spencer (Dec.) and niece of Angelina Nampijinpa Tasman. She attended the Yuendumu Secondary School leaving in Year 10/11. When she finished school, she worked for the Child Care Program. On one of her visits to Lajamanu she met her partner. She has one big daughter and one son. Although living in Lajamanu, she continues to visit Yuendumu to “see my family, or for sports week or for no reason at all”. She has one sister and two brothers who also live in Lajamanu.
Sylvannia has painted intermittently with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located in Yuendumu, since 2004, whenever she visits Yuendumu. She paints her father’s Wardapi Jukurrpa (Goanna Dreaming) and can also paint her mother’s Ngapa Jukurrpa (Water Dreaming). These dreamings relate directly to her land, its features and the plants and animals that inhabit it and have been passed down through the generations. Initially she used traditional iconography but over time has developed an individualist style using pattern and design in a variety of contexts to depict her traditional jukurrpa.
When Sylvannia is not painting, she travels to and from Yuendumu to Lajamanu, spending time with family.